20 Most Common English Proverbs of Friendship

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Proverbs are wise sayings handed down over many generations used to pass on wisdom and to teach. Some are thousands of years old. Whereas others were created in the last 50 years.

Here are 20 common English Proverbs about friends and friendship, along with their meanings.

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1. A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. 

When everyone else leaves you in your life, including your spouse or family, the ones that step in and help you are your real friends.

Real friends are there for you when no one else in your life is. That’s why they also say that you learn who you real friends are in times of trouble.

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2. A dog is man’s best friend.

Dogs are loyal friends to have in your life. They do everything to protect and please their owner. They are faithful companions that make themselves of value to their owner, doing anything for them and giving him/her unconditional love without asking much in return.

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3. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A friend that sticks with you and helps you when you’re in trouble is a true friend. For example, if you have a friend who helps you even when you have nothing to give back to them at that moment, they are a true friend.

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4. A friend to all is a friend to none.

A friendship with a person who is friends with everyone is not unique or truly valuable. You can’t count on them. They won’t protect you or stick up for you when you have problems with others because they’re also friends with the other people too.

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5. A friend’s eye is a good mirror.

Sometimes we don’t see ourselves as clearly as we do others. A good friend will truthfully tell you whether you do something good or bad which is valuable to have. 

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6. A man is known by his friends.

People judge you by the company you keep. Others will look at your friends and make assumptions about you based on the friends you choose to have in your life.

They also mean to say that it’s important who you pick as your friends because it affects your reputation.

Also known as: “A man is known by the company he keeps.”

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7. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

When those you love – friends, family, or romantic partners – are physically far away from you, you feel more love for them. This is partial because you miss them and think more positively about them when they’re not with you. 

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8. As thick as thieves.

Meaning to have a very strong friendship, similar to feeling like family rather than friends. This is like when you see in the movies that there is a “pirate’s code” or a “thieves code” connecting all of them as if one big loyal family.

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9. Birds of a feather flock together.

People who like the same things and have similar personalities tend to enjoy spending time together. For example, different teenagers who like listening to rock music and skateboarding will all become friends and enjoy spending time together. 

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10. False friends are worse than open enemies.

It’s better to at least know who your enemy is, instead of believing someone is your friend only to find out that they aren’t.

At least when you know who your enemy is, you know not to trust them. Whereas if the person you are counting on won’t be there when you need them, it would be better to know you can’t count on them sooner rather than later. 

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11. Familiarity breeds contempt.

When you know too much about someone or something, or are too close to someone you can lose respect for them (or it).

For example, if Elvis were your father, you would know his flaws and problems more than other people who respect him and only saw the good side of him. 

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12. Friends are thieves of time.

Thieves are people who steal from you. This proverb means that we use a lot of our free time to spend time with our friends instead of doing other things. Also, that time tends to move quickly and slips by without us realizing it when we are with our friends.

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13. Friendship is like money, easier made than kept.

It’s easy to make friends when you first meet someone. But over time to develop a real friendship takes effort and hard work. Similarly to how keeping money is harder than making it. 

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14. Friendship is love with understanding.

When you are in a romantic relationship, feelings of love often make us biased or “blind” to the other person’s bad side. In friendships, we love a person with a complete knowledge of both their good and their bad sides. We’re not as biased as when in romantic relationships. 

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15. A friend at hand is better than a relative at a distance.

Close companions in your life are more valuable than your family if you are not close to them.

This phrase is similar to the idea that your neighbor is more important in your life than your parents if they life far away. Because, if something happened to you, your neighbor could be there to help you.

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16. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

Your enemies wish to harm you. So, if you keep them close to you, by acting friendly with them, you are able to watch them in more detail and know what they’re planning before they do it.

This can also give you an advantage over them because you understand your enemy in better detail when you keep them close to you.

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17. Lend your money. Lose your friend.

You should never let your friends borrow your money. If you do lend them money, there is a big chance that you will either have problems with them paying you back, or they may become upset with you when you ask for your money back. 

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18. A man who has friends must himself be friendly.

Friendship is created through two people. A friendship won’t last long if only one person makes an effort. Just like any relationship, both sides of a friendship must actively work at the friendship for it to continue and develop.

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19. The rich knows not who is his friend.

When someone is rich, many people want to be close to them to take advantage of their money. So, when someone has a lot of money, they don’t know whether the people close to them are close because of them, or because of their money.

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20. Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.

Even our greatest friends were at one time unknown to us. Everyone you meet in your life has the potential to become your friend. But you need to open yourself up to it and make an effort towards it. That’s why they say it’s waiting. It’s waiting for you to make it happen.

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Do we miss any proverbs about friends and friendship? Leave them in the comment section below with their meaning.

 

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